The government may have to retract its promise to retrospectively publish four serious case reviews in full, as one of these reviews might put surviving siblings at risk, children’s minister Tim Loughton has admitted.
In June, the government confirmed plans to publish in full serious case reviews into Baby P, Shannon Matthews, the Edlington torture case and Khyra Ishaq.
The two reviews that do not pose any risk will still be published and the Ishaq review was published in July. But only the executive summary of one unspecified review is likely to be published as siblings could be in danger.
Loughton denied this represented a U-turn by the government.
“We didn’t just say every serious case review was going to be published,” he told the House of Commons education select committee today. “We chose four high-profile cases and said we thought those should be published subject to anonymisation and subject to there being no threat to the welfare of siblings.”
Many critics of full publication have identified risks to the safety and identity of surviving siblings as a reason to publish executive summaries only.
“Siblings who have survived a case who I’ve spoken to have said they want to know when authorities were going to ask their opinion about it,” said children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson at the evidence session.
“They say, ‘if you’re not going to ask me, how am I supposed to respect you or trust you enough to tell my story?'”
Atkinson added that identification of some siblings was inevitable.
“If you’re Child B in a small village in North Yorkshire, everyone in your class is going to know you’re Child B,” she said. “If you want to make serious case reviews like trials, then make them trials. Don’t call them exercises.”
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